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Sunday, March 31, 2019

AVIELLE'S MOM

by George Held


The following statement by Jeremy Richman’s widow, Jennifer Hensel, was posted at the GoFundMe page created by Jennifer’s brother. It is the only authorized fundraising site for fundraising for Jennifer and her children. “Side by side since 1991, Jeremy and I walked a path of deep friendship, marriage, and parenthood. As you may know, our first born, our beautiful Avielle was murdered at Sandy Hook school in 2012. In 2013, we founded the Avielle Foundation to honor her life. Our second daughter, Imogen (4 years) and son Owen (2 years) brought a renewed sense of joy and hope to our lives. Imogen and Owen are imaginative, fun, caring, sweet, curious and RIDICULOUSLY loving. They are a true reflection of Jeremy and me. The work of the Avielle Foundation is meaningful. But my champion and the love of my life is the person who had every tool in the toolbox at his disposal. He succumbed to the grief that he could not escape. Now we also honor Jeremy through the continued work of our foundation. Our family is our true legacy. To parent our children without my champion shatters my heart and I will love my best friend forever.  I am grateful for your support and donations.”


You’ve lost your daughter,
Now your husband,
To the dark reaper
Who sowed death
Among the kids and staff
At Sandy Hook,
Sure as if he’d pulled
The trigger on Jeremy.

Who knew that more years
Would pass than Avielle’s age
Before Jeremy himself
Would pass on from
The hopelessness here
To wherever—we can
Never know—but life
Without Avielle,

In an uncaring nation
Of gun Nazis
Allowing no progress
On gun laws,
Was just too hard
To bear? And we now
Pray for you, Avielle’s mom
And Jeremy’s widow,

We pray for you.


George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.News and other periodicals, has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations and published or edited twenty-two poetry books.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

88 POUNDS

by Pepper Trail





What are the words in whale for this?
For this death?

We will not know

Somewhere, deep, a moan   
Too low for hearing, perhaps
A shriek too high to be borne

The rice sacks, torn, wash into the sea
Float, drift, sink into the dark

Echo back the shape of food
The shape, but not the taste
More, found, eaten, then more

The whale learns what we know
To be full, and starving
The too much and the never enough

On the necropsy table
We sort the plastic, we weigh it
We feel the horror

But the words, the right words
We will never know


Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Friday, March 29, 2019

THE DEATHS OF CHILDREN

by Marshall Witten


In the north of Peru archaeologists found a mass grave. Over 500 years ago, almost 140 children and more than 200 animals were sacrificed here. Researchers are now reporting on the background of the bloody ritual. According to the researchers, details of the site also reveal the possible reason for the ritual: it is covered by a thick layer of mud, into which the mass grave was embedded. Footprints and hoof prints show that the mud was still wet at the time of the sacrifice. The researchers suspect that the actually very dry place was hit by heavy rainfall and flooding at that time. This leads them back to the climate phenomenon El Niño, which continues to cause flooding in the coastal region to this day. "The sacrifice of so many children and camels was a significant investment of resources for the Chimú state," they write. "The temptation to assume that the mass sacrifice of children and camels was an attempt to appease the gods and mitigate the effects of a larger El Niño event that occurred around 1400-1450." Teller Report, March 7, 2019


The photo bares a 15th century open
Peru grave in desert sand, egg shaped, two
children snuggled together, headdresses, red-
cinnabar paint on their skulls, facing east
toward the coast, 140 victims,                                                      
both sexes, at a ritual-massacre site.
Victims’ chests cut open, hearts ripped out.    
200 baby llamas also sacrificed,
buried facing west toward the Andes.

Evidence hints a disastrous El Niño caused
torrential rains, vast flooding, killing mud
flows, buried cropland, ruined fisheries, farmers’
deaths, civil terror that supported mass sacrifices.

I saw, superimposed over the picture, images
of Yemeni children killed by our drone strikes,

of young Guatemalan children separated from parents
cuddled in blankets at our border, caged.

The Yemeni we kill for oil.
The Guatemalans we tear from parents, psychologically damage,
and sometimes cause death, for votes, racial fear.

Like the Chimú, our child murder-cruelty rests
on fear of change. What might we do when climate
horrors really pinch, food-water shortages,
constant weather cataclysms, civil collapse,
Bikers for T patrolling the streets?

Unsheathed gods of fear may not be controllable.


Marshall Witten is a retired lawyer who has lived and practiced in Vermont for 58 years. His poems have appeared in The Mountain Troubadour, Stanza, Birchsong, and his chapbook Reflections on Change.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS

by Jackie Fox




Paper beats rock
Rock beats scissors
Scissors beats paper
Water beats them all
The river runs with scissors
like a child laughing
in whitecaps
Laughing so hard
it capsizes the airboats
sent to save families and pets
Clenching its fists of ice
it smashes the rock
in highways and dams,
the metal in bridges
and grain bins
until they crumple like paper
and are swept away


Jackie Fox’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bellevue Literary Review, The Fem, Tar River Poetry, Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, and other journals and anthologies.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

INFIRMITY

by Rick Mullin
After the Mueller Report by Barry Blitt at The New Yorker


The faithless Democrat turns very fast
on a purported savior when that savior
doesn’t let him have his way. The last
two days bring out his worst behavior.
Now the hope of a purported dossier
is dashed, the clumsy meeting in the tower
proves another harrowing non-starter.
The Democrat hangs back at happy hour,
pining for the days of Jimmy Carter
before the Gipper took his ball away.
“Perhaps that special counsel was a ruse!”
He’ll air that out on social media.
His reverence for a savior’s fast and loose,
unlike that of the MAGA ascaridia
whose savior lives to loathe another day.


Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Lullaby and Wheel.

NOTHING TO SEE HERE

by Edmund Conti


Collusion Conclusions by Matt Bors at The Nib


Mueller was our hero
Until his work was done.
Final score, Mueller zero;
Barr none.


Edmund Conti has written several poems. Final score not in yet.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

DROWNED OUT

by Gregory Palmerino


The father of a first-grade girl killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was discovered dead in an apparent suicide Monday morning at a town hall in Connecticut, police said. Authorities said the body of Jeremy Richman, 49, was found at about 7 a.m. at Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, a Connecticut community that has been scarred by the tragic school shooting that left 20 students and six staff members dead. The victims included Richman’s daughter, 6-year-old Avielle Richman. Richman, a neuroscientist who founded the Avielle Foundation in his daughter’s name, studied the brain and violence. The foundation had an office at the town hall. —The Washington Post, March 25, 2019. Photo: Jeremy Richman, father of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim Avielle Richman, addresses the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission on Nov. 14 in Newtown, Conn. (Jessica Hill/AP via The Washington Post)

The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.
                        —Langston Hughes

You think
you know the sounds
I mean. I’ve heard your news,
so come and listen to me now,
father.

Of course,
it’s nice to think
the old wind weeps in tune,
fire mourns, the earth and water live.
So what.

I, too,
tried to embrace
listeners of that song:
the child is father of the man—
it’s gone.

It’s gone:
the Romantic
poet’s imagined place,
or all faith in one’s innocence.
It’s gone.

I hear
the echo now;
it repeats a child’s wail,
sounding notes too dumb to ignore
they’re dead.


Gregory Palmerino writes poetry in Connecticut's Quiet Corner, where he lives with his wife and three children. He is a past contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

SURVIVOR'S GUILT: PARKLAND

by Alan Catlin


The mother of a recent graduate told CBS Miami last week that her daughter, Sydney Aiello, had taken her own life. Aiello (pictured above), 19, was a senior at the school during the massacre. One of her friends, Meadow Pollack, was killed. In the year since the shooting, Aiello had struggled with survivor’s guilt and had recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, her mother said. During the weekend, word began to spread that another Parkland teenager had also died in what authorities called an “apparent suicide.” The student’s name and age were not released, and authorities said the death was under investigation. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie announced the student’s death Sunday on Twitter, saying that “a great young man” at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had committed suicide.” The superintendent added late Sunday night: “In the wake of two suicides that shocked the community this past week, parents & representatives from organizations throughout Broward County came together today to discuss what we can do to help students at MSD and children throughout the county cope with trauma and depression.” —The Washington Post, March 22, 2019


Not all school shooting
victims are physically
wounded

Bear no visible scars
though everyone was
aware of what happened

That she had been there,
and, somehow,
she survived through no
fault of her own

Some watched as their
best friends died while they
were unscathed

All felt helpless and knew
they would never be
the same after-that day-

She fell into a deep depression

Felt despair

Not even daily Yoga helped

It is impossible to empty
your mind after something
like that

“No one knew how I felt.”
She said.

Her best friend’s father
insisted, “He did.”
Of course, he did

“Killing yourself is not the answer.”

All the parents understand

Her friends who survived knew
what she meant

But it wasn’t enough

Sydney Aiello was 19
when she died.


Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full-length books, most recently the chapbook Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance (Presa Press), a series of ekphrastic poems responding to the work of German photographer August Sander who did portraits of Germans before, during, and after both World Wars.

Monday, March 25, 2019

YOGA AND THE MUELLER REPORT

by Judith Terzi




Our bodies sinking into mats.
We are mountains on our heads.
Inhale, exhale. Collusion between
body and mind. We count long
breaths for remedy. We inhale.
Energy streams, recedes. We look
into ourselves, release the mélange
of hype, exhale the yoke of power's
deception. We twist into eagle pose.
We are king palms, oaks. We are
the sky, we inhale warmth, salute
the soar. We are royal warriors
in child's pose. We exhale all
the words. Our ears are sealed.


Author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books, 2018) and five chapbooks, Judith Terzi's poems appear widely in literary journals and anthologies. Her poetry has been read on the BBC, nominated for Best of the Net and Web, and included in a study guide for the artist-in-residence program for State Theater New Jersey. She holds an M.A. in French Literature and lives in Pasadena, CA with her husband and cockatiel.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

FULL CENTURY

by Howard Winn


In honor of Lawrence Ferlinghetti at one hundred years.


has receded into history
and the beat goes on
although by now all his disciples
have passed out of the San
Francisco air of what was
once the unfashionable district
until the boys and girls of
the computer culture in the
Silicon Valley began seeking
sophistication and superiority
leaving the famous bookstore
where world changing verse
and fiction issued forth
brightening the shop window
of that literary cradle of the hip
and the mind of the rebels who
have along with the city itself turned
on the lights of sensation and
changed the very character of culture
way beyond the aura of sophistication
that made the city at the top
of that green peninsula the center
of the new culture that swept
both state and country and the world
never to be forgotten or erased


Howard Winn's poetry has been published most recently in Evening Street Review and Adelaide Literary Journal.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

APPRECIATION

by Penelope Scambly Schott


W.S. Merwin (1927-2019)Photograph by Tom Sewell / NYT / Redux via The New Yorker


The old men poets are dying
even the ones younger than my father
One by one they are leaving us
leaving their words on the page
their voices on tape
I have no recording anywhere
of my father’s voice
Not even on an answering machine
I can call and recall him over and over
but he will never answer again
Year by year and day by day
the old men poets are leaving us
they who were our fathers in poetry
before we women learned to appreciate
our mothers in poetry, bless them all


Penelope Scambly Schott, author of a novel and several books of poetry, was awarded four New Jersey arts fellowships before moving to Oregon, where her verse biography A is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth received an Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Several of Penelope’s books and individual poems have won other prizes. Her individual poems have appeared in APR, Georgia Review, Nimrod, and elsewhere.

POMPEY MAGNUS

by George Held



Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested in this televised interview that God may have sent President Donald Trump to Earth to protect Israel.


Dressed in his black undertaker’s suit,
The Secretary of State, first in his class
at West Point, visits the Western Wall
with ally Netanyahu, then blithely tells
the press that as a Christian, first in his class,
he believes God might well have ordained
that President T***p be the angel
of Israel’s deliverance, a modern Esther
on this Purim 2019.

Pompey Magnus, Pompeo’s antecedent,
Had three Triumphs in his day; now here’s
Another one, at the Western Wall at the expense
of the wall between Church and State, descended
from Roger Williams and T. Jefferson,
whose descendant T***p desires above all
a wall along the Mexican border, the modern
version of Sicily, which Pompey the Great
conquered in the name of the Republic.

Will our Pompeo the Great, first in his class,
bring down, like Joshua at Jericho, the wall
between State and Church? Who is this god
for whom Pompeo speaks with such confidence?
Who is this Caesar T***p, who like Emperor
Sulla, sends his consul abroad to make
policy without consent of the Senate? And
will he avoid, like Pompey, the scathing
nickname, earned for causing carnage, “carnifex”*?


* “the butcher"  


George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.News and other periodicals, has a new poetry book, Second Sense, forthcoming from Poets Wear Prada.

Friday, March 22, 2019

THE ELDERS

by Michael Cantor




The city bosses and their smoke filled rooms
gave us Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower;
and once you get beyond cigars and booze,

the smell of Scotch and misbegotten power,
there’s still the knowledge that those drunken fools
picked out Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower.

But now we’ve fixed the system, passed new rules—
the people choose their leaders, not some hacks—
and all acknowledge that those party tools

were mostly focused on each other’s backs.
Today, the public’s voice is clear and loud—
the people choose their leaders, and the hacks

just keep the score; and we can all be proud
that this is how democracy will flower.
Indeed, the public’s voice is clear and loud:

the rule of law has fundamental power.
But every night that inner tune resumes:
The city bosses and their smoke filled rooms
gave us Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower.


Michael Cantor’s first full-length collection Life in the Second Circle (Able Muse Press, 2012) was a finalist for the Able Muse Prize and 2013 Massachusetts Book Award for Poetry. A chapbook The Performer was published in 2007. His work has appeared in The Dark Horse, Measure, Raintown Review, frogpond, New Walk, Think, Light, and numerous other journals and anthologies.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

TWO WORLDS

by Shelly Blankman


The Hill, March 14, 2019


You gross millions in the public eye,
ride us on roller coasters of tears
and laughter at every jolt, get paid

to crusade for the starved, the sick --
lost souls left behind by war and hate
who blanket the globe while you snuggle

under your cozy quilt. You strut the red
carpet in your glitzy gowns and stilettos,
flashing your porcelain smile for the cameras

as crowds echo your name. But you never
let us see you without your makeup, did you?
We never saw you after the credits had rolled,

We never saw you play the role of a lifetime:
A thief who could buy your kid’s way into
a school for the elite. We saw you lounging

in bistros, sipping your lattes, chatting with friends
while a world away from Hollywood, an Ohio woman
sits in jail. She is Black. Poor. Alone.

She was led there hunched, shackled,
in a black-and-white striped uniform.
She sobs for her daughters, the ones she registered in

a better school using her father’s address. A father
with whom she once lived. No bribery. No money.
No bistros. No lattes. Nine days prison. Three years probation.

No fan clubs to rally around her.
No rich lawyer to let her go.
Just tears. Just tears.


Shelly Blankman is an empty nester who lives in Columbia, MD with her husband, foster dog and 3 rescue cats. They have two sons who live in New York and Texas. Shelly's career has spanned public relations and journalism, but her first love has always been poetry. She has had a number of poems published in journals, such as Praxis Online Magazine, Poetry Super Highway, Ekphrastic Review, and Social Justice Poetry.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

METHODISTS

by Eric Greene


It was a momentous vote for the United Methodist Church, as the future of the country’s second-largest Protestant church hung in the balance. In a former football stadium in St. Louis last month, church officials and lay leaders from around the world voted to strengthen their ban on same-sex marriage and gay clergy, a decision that could now split the church. But at least four ballots were cast by individuals who were not authorized to vote, according to interviews and a review of the church’s records. The individuals were from African delegations whose votes were critical to restricting the church’s rules on homosexuality. The final 54-vote margin against gay clergy and same-sex marriage exceeds the number of unauthorized votes discovered so far. But the voting irregularities raised questions about the process behind the divisive decision, which devastated progressive members. Some have discussed leaving the denomination and possibly creating a new alliance for gay-friendly churches. Church leaders are now discussing whether new votes should be called, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, who serves on the commission on the general conference, said in a phone interview. —The New York Times, March 14, 2019 Above: Members of the United Methodist Church reacted to the vote last month to strengthen the ban on same-sex marriage and gay clergy. Credit: Sid Hastings/Associated Press via The New York Times


I don't know the difference
Between a Methodist and a Baptist
Or an Episcopalian and a Presbyterian.
But I do know the difference between truth and falsehood.
One of them has power—
Power to split a church in half:
E=mc²
And m = the Methodists,
About to blow themselves apart by their own blindness—
Blind to the simple truth that
We are all what we are meant to be!


Eric Greene is a member of The Southeast Michigan Poetry Meetup Group. He has been previously published in TheNewVerse.News.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

FOR THE YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKERS

by Pepper Trail


Greta Thunberg on a stage in Helsinki after speaking to a crowd of 10,000 people at a March 15, 2019 Fridays for Future rally.

You will lie down in shallow water
Shelter under roofing tin
Move on, keep on moving

On small screens, the most fortunate
Will remember coral reefs
Forests not on fire, elephants, tigers

You will have children, yes, because

You will sing to them
When they are hungry, feverish
When the storm rages

Some few of you, the saintly few
Will not hate us, not curse us
Will forgive


Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Monday, March 18, 2019

MAKING OF AN ENEMY

by Nan Ottenritter




Last year, American Bridge submitted a FOIA request when it was reported that Trump’s former head of the Office of Refugee Resettlement kept a spreadsheet of information on pregnant minors in his care, including whether the minor had asked for an abortion. Those documents were finally received and Rachel Maddow made them public on March 15, 2019.


after Randall Jarrell’s “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”


From border’s legal crossing I fell into the State.
And I nurtured a rape child in my belly.
Fourteen years old, separated from parents,
Dates of assault, menstrual cycle tracked,
Caged, and baby birthed, I became State’s enemy,
And you wonder why.


Nan Ottenritter is a poet and musician who lives in Richmond, VA.

INNOCENCE

by Jo-Ella Sarich


Credit: Jorge Silva/Reuters via Aljazeera


You were
the bawdy older sister; we thought we were
coquettish, the fish
on the end of the hook. Your tears
were a map traced upon the backs of doors; the other land
of someone else’s pain. I count the seagulls
carving new wounds across my eyelids -
30; 40; 49; someone said ‘terrorist’,
and our world shifted
just that fraction like a coin flipped. Now this mirror,
now this dress that
makes my thighs look like the Port Hills
at dusk and you hold me,
for just a moment and say,
I know what it means
to bleed inside. Some say
Aoraki’s feet are awash in his tears; some say
tears are just the ties that bind us. Men are
shouting in loud voices while our parents
are in bed; in summer we shook, now
we stand still. You call me, the one
who taught me how to count
with both hands and I try and
imagine how you feel
in Orlando right now, holding a lock
of my baby hair and praying,
Is nothing ever sacred?


Jo-Ella Sarich is a lawyer, writer, and mother to two young girls living in Pito-one, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her poems have appeared in a number of print and online publications, including New Statesman, The Lake, Cleaver Magazine, Barzakh Magazine, Quarterday Review, Shoreline of Infinity, takahē magazine, Shot Glass Journal, the New Zealand Poetry Society’s Anthology for 2017 and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

AFTER CHRISTCHURCH

by Dana Yost






Calling them
white nationalists
gives them a pass,
gives them a level of credibility
well above reality.
It’s a lame, tame
name and I say
no more of the same:
call them what they are:
racists,
segregationists,
fascists,
un-democratic,
un-American,
failed,
afraid,
war-losing,
truth-warping,
lockstepped
sleazes with triggers.
Klan,
Lindbergh,
Nazis,
McVeigh,
Hannity,
LaPierre,
we set aside
our mourning
wreath
to lay
this on
you.
You don’t
get the 
polite name.
You get
the blame.


Dana Yost was an award-winning daily newspaper editor and writer for 29 years. He is the author of five books, including a history of the rural Midwest in the 1940 era, another period of isolationist, anti-immigrant, white-supremacist attitudes and acts. He has lived his entire life in the rural Midwest.

LINES FROM A QUIET ISLAND

by David Mason



Sydney Morning Herald, March 24, 2017


When you have left, beginning to look back,
you can see everything they covered up,
the iron of neighborhood, the layered hates.

Men go armed to market. They do not talk,
though lips move, emitting sounds like fists.
The commentators say the nation’s mad

yet too few get up from a chair and move.
There are no pitchforks, torches at the gates,
and all the lowered eyes look very sad.

The statues might have warned us this could happen,
those noble men accustomed to their slaves,
those domes and obelisks and public greens.

Now an island lies at peace in a southern sea
with well-kept paddocks, trees of cockatoos,
the stirring of a clerk in the bottle shop.

Here monuments, like peoples’ homes, are small.
You set out never wanting to look back.
You do look back. You look and try to breathe.

And if you think you’ve found your perfect island,
think further to what you do not see or hear.
There hasn’t been a change in human nature.

Here too the ammunition clip has clicked
crisply into the automatic rifle.
So quiet you can hear dead children scream.


David Mason is an American poet living in Tasmania.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

SHOCKFOX

by Mickey J. Corrigan




Flint-eyed  and bound
for ash on the edge
of bursting
into flame, that's
when you pull out
the mic and the camera
the global keyboard
and clickity clack share
your outrage journalism
in machinegun blasts

Never mind what all
the offense archaeologists
will dig up when
they dissect your diatribes
from the city crumble
bleak state disasters

Pay no mind
to the PC anthro-apologists
who'll scrape
the jackboot muck
off your commentary
after the bombs fall,
the mushroom cloud
passes overhead

You are still on target
your electronic pulpit hot
your right a kind of wrong
a viral spread
of abyss-mal charisma
peanut butter and bile
on the bread of our ears

our daily bread
we must take in
as we wait
for you
to explode.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida and writes noir with a dark humor. Books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

ON WATCHING THE PRESIDENT SIGN COPIES OF THE BIBLE

by Robert West


on eBay



“The devil can cite Scripture to his purpose”
—Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice


We used to say to get his way
   Old Scratch himself would quote it,
but never thought we’d see the day
   he’d act as though he wrote it.


Robert West's poems have recently appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Light, Red Dirt Forum, and Asheville Poetry Review. Co-editor of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013), he's also the editor of both volumes of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons (W. W. Norton, 2017).

MANAFORT DESTINY

by Edmund Conti




Of course there was heartbreak and strife
     As he travelled through valleys and peaks
But he “lived an otherwise blameless life”
     Which he managed in two or three weeks.


Edmund Conti's life is best left unexamined.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

THE LANGUAGE CAGE

by Alejandro Escudé


Available from Nielsen Magic


     “Sir, we don’t use cages for children,” the DHS secretary said. “Yes. I’m being as clear as I can, sir. Respectfully, I’m trying to answer your question.”
     “Just yes or no. Are we still putting children in cages?” [House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie] Thompson asked again.
     “To my knowledge, [Customs and Border Patrol] never purposely put a child in a cage,” [Kirstjen] Nielsen stated.
—Salon, March 6, 2019


When the child first enters the cage,
The spaces in the chain-link are made of words.
The words are in Spanish, they read, jaula, carcel,
A series of synonyms meaning the same thing.
A child is also the child entering; one could
Make a cage out of anything. Even sunbeams.
The doorway, a  gleaming nexus of rays,
the benches made of aurora borealis green,
and the child would be a child sitting on it, waiting
for the wound in her to heal with a parent’s touch.
There are many words, and also, there aren’t any others.
The immigrant is an outsider, an illegal, an alien.
Words on their own never show compassion.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

IN THE AFTERMATH

OF KASHMIR'S FEBRUARY 14, 2019 ATTACK ON AN INDIAN ARMY CONVOY

by Huma Sheikh


A bitter winter in Srinagar had just started to ease when the latest crisis in Kashmir was sparked on 14 February. That afternoon a local member of a Pakistan-based militant group rammed a car laden with explosives into a bus carrying Indian paramilitaries. The explosion was heard for miles around. At least 40 people were killed, the highest death toll from a single attack in the history of the insurgency. Above: A Kashmiri Muslim woman looks on as Indian government forces stand guard after clashes with separatist protesters. Photograph: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images. —The Guardian, March 2, 2019


No matter what the glistening forms
in blue cosmic wings tell me, I see
drones soaring in despair.

I left Kashmir lives ago and my veins
drained of past gore,
hallucinate in this world—Florida’s panhandle,
pounding, floating wraiths, spanning the distance,
gasping—
Rumi’s chaotic freedom.

Today, on the internet, a deceased trooper's daughter wailing;
forty mugshots scrolling the dead across the screen;
Kashmiri students, children of Indian Kashmir,
disappearing in Dehradun dungeons,
eyes of Sikh keepers burning a storm—protestors’ roar outside;
Kashmiri traders in Lucknow, whipped and kicked;
pack animals, carrying identity wares.

How to rebuild a sense of refuge when hope beans spill,
dissolve, in a battle?
Hadn’t these students, traders, escaped warfare in Kashmir?
Deaths bloom for the kith of the slain;
memories of dear ones an endless crackle of real flesh storm
dropping to ashes.
For Kashmiris still there,
war an everyday meal,
some eat, some fast by chance.

I question violence;
India and Pakistan’s territorial land-grab war,
ask myself if voicing feelings,
otherness, isn’t transcending bitterness?

Kashmir floats with me even here,
new crises piled on old ones—
a pedantic coop, winged prison,
war crumb confetti.
I do the ant’s painstaking
weight lifting of fragments—
senile Socrates.


Huma Sheikh is originally from Kashmir, currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Florida State. Her prose and verse have appeared in various journals and magazines. A memoir and book of poems are in progress.

Monday, March 11, 2019

FOR DYLAN MCKAY

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco



Luke Perry, who became a household name playing Dylan McKay in the 1990s TV series Beverly Hills 90210 suffered a stroke and died on March 4.


how many girls
are writing sad poems
for dylan

as we speak maybe

not girls
maybe just

women
who have eye cream
and hard jobs

i was a brenda but
you broke my heart with kelly

and i cried
in my old cutoffs
on the couch in our old house

and i forgot
until just now

what we had meant

when we were young
when we were going to change
the world

but now
i drop my kid at school
i see my face
slipping away in the rear window

and i think
of surfer boys

who would have loved all us cold girls
in the right way

if they were real

if we had let them
if the things we were

were ever
good enough


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California's Central Valley, and co-edits One Sentence Poems. Her chapbooks, Various Lies, Lion Hunt, and Water Weight are available from Finishing Line Press, Plan B Press, and Right Hand Pointing (for free!) respectively.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME

by Earl J Wilcox


Source: Meme


We have sprung forward,
lost an hour, here and there.
To close this gap time
let’s consider ourselves
fortunate: in these lost
minutes we have avoided
25 new lies by T***P—
not seen a so-called
news conference in which
T***P evades a dozen reporters’
questions--closed our ears
for 3600 seconds to the sounds
of a callow voice of hypocrisy
self-praise, pure narcissism and
a million nanoseconds of fake rage.


Earl J Wilcox is regular contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

WHAT THE FAVOURITE TAUGHT ME

by Devon Balwit





Unlike Abigail, I wouldn’t have made it
past the scullery. The first caustic prank
would’ve undone me. I would never think
to steal a horse and ride for herbs, unfit
for such machinations. Pushed and tripped
by courtiers, I’d have shrunk to rabbit stature,
nose aquiver, precisely when a vicious nature
would serve me better. A gun lifted and fired
point-blank at my midsection would’ve sent
me scurrying to the alleyways to a whore’s life—
forget corsets, pineapples, and assignations.
But this Machiavellian she could plumb intent
and flummox the devious, energized by strife.
So brutes ascend, while the meek tender resignations.


Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine among others.

Friday, March 08, 2019

FAUX-I-DA POSTCARD AFTER LOCAL SPA CLOSES

by Mickey J. Corrigan


A sign is posted outside of Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Fla., one of several spas closed in south Florida as a result of a six-month investigation into sex trafficking. —Times-Republican, February 28, 2019


All you see is the romance
of palm trees in an ocean breeze
sugary sand and slim suits
on slick brown bodies. You think
it's like your fantasies of love
soft bare skin and lickable sweat
and that's the trick—
naked seaside indolence
disguised as a pretty poem
your dreams breezy and loose
as a mid-day tryst
after salted dips in aqua
waves, margaritas
sipped in umbrella shade.
Lift up your sunglasses, friends—
drip-dry your mushy hearts, your
sentimental smarm
and take a good look
at the overshadows
the slave ships and rope burns,
the storm clouds, the flooding doom
with tints of unbearable intensity.
Faux is perfect for paintings
but here
paradise is a trompe-de-l'oeil
in a vast holding cell.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan lives in South Florida and writes noir with a dark humor. Books have been released by publishers in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Poetry chapbooks include The Art of Bars (Finishing Line Press, 2016) and Days' End (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2017). Project XX, a novel about a school shooting, was published in 2017 by Salt Publishing in the UK. 

Thursday, March 07, 2019

NYEPI

by James Penha




Bali’s Day of Silence has been updated
to match Hindu antiquity: no mobile
phone service, no internet, no airplane
landings or takeoffs, no cars or motor
bikes, no talking, no walking—I cannot
even walk the dog—a day of meditation!
without Calm, my mindfulness app? One
might think a religion with so many gods
might have deitized some thing with wheels
or code. But Ogoh-ogoh is a jealous sort
who demands purity and for at least a day
an end to the pollution of the old island’s
spirits from the craft of human beings.


James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News .

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

CLOUD ELEGY

by Pepper Trail


Very high carbon dioxide could suppress cooling clouds, climate change model warns —The Washington Post, February 25, 2019


The icebergs—did you see them, before?
Great rambling beasts of the Southern Ocean
White, or the faded blue of memory
Broken but whole, inanimate and alive
Taking from us, as they approached
Our breath, our warmth, our words
Now, mere wave-broken pools of melt

Next, emptying out the world, everything
Needful of the space we have filled
Elephants, bears, wolves, whales
And also the small, requiring things
To be just so, intricacy of this bee, that flower
The curving tongue, the perfumed throat
Doomed by their entangled perfection

We came to accept all that, and yes
We struggle to remember the time before
The storms, and the skeleton reefs
Droughts, floods, crumbling shores
Spreading deserts, absent glaciers
The burning forests, the sinuous rivers
Working their way through the city streets

Yet, still somehow, we never dreamed
The clouds themselves, reliable as mountains
Could be added to the roster of extinction
That we would live beneath an empty sky
That between us and the burning sun
Would remain only a merciless nothing
An atmosphere exhaled by us alone


Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

WAITING FOR MUELLER

by Rick Mullin


by LysergicAcid25


The Conversation lingers and abides,
a live feed to the hungry living room.
Incessant Facebook messaging provides
an outlet to the core where we assume
participants are pro-democracy,
politically correct, and mostly woke.

Arriviste Ocasio-Cortez
is on the line. We love the way she spoke
to power only yesterday. She says,
“Après le déluge, you can count on me!”

The Special Counsel wraps up any day.
The noose is tight and we expect it all
to come together. Confident, we stay
awake, empowered by the spectacle
of drying paint on MSNBC.


Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Lullaby and Wheel.

Monday, March 04, 2019

THE FIXER’S TESTIMONIAL

by Mary K O'Melveny


Michael Cohen by Ross Studio


I am not a bad man
and yet
I am not a good man

I knew the road’s rules
and yet
I went off the rails

I loved my family
and yet
I brought them pain

I am not an angry man
and yet
I am not a satisfied man

I am a problem-solver
and yet
I caused complications

I am a loyal man
and yet
I betrayed everyone

I know what truth is
and yet
I used to lie for a living

I am not a sorry man
and yet
I am a man filled with regrets

One does what one can
until that is no longer an option
Then one becomes someone else

and yet

Maybe it is better
Maybe it is worse
My guilt may set me free

and yet


Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

LETTER TO DONALD DUCK FROM SPIDERMAN

by Richard Garcia




Hey Donald, where have you been?
I haven't seen any Donald
Duck Part II movies. And what happened
to that uncle of yours,
Scrooge or something, used
to swim in his swimming pool full of
money? Some people say he just one day
disappeared, and now you have enough
money to sail your yachts across oceans
of money. I know, they're grown up now
and working for you, but I always
wondered about those nephews of yours,
Huey, Dewey, and Louie. How did they
just show up like that one day? And who's
their momma? Do they both have the
same Momma? Did you adopt them from
some Iron Curtain country? What
happened to Daisy? And I never could
understand about that dog of yours. I
mean, if Pluto is a dog, just who or what
is Goofy? He's got the feet of a clown,
body of some lanky oaf, face of a buck-
tooth bloodhound and talks like some
stupid alien. Is he human or some kind of
DNA experiment gone wrong? Donald,
I'm worried about you. You hiding out?
It's not enough to be a comic book hero
anymore. You have to be a franchise, a
package, several  blockbusters, T-shirts,
hoodies, action figures. You've got to
keep up, Donald. You know, I heard about
that flop of a Clark Kent. He doesn't even
know there's no newspapers any more.
He was seen running around skid row in
that same business suit. And guess what,
he was still looking for a phone booth.
Just a word to the wise Donald, get your
spidey sense going. Maybe get yourself
a mask, a costume or something.


Richard Garcia's recent books, The Other Odyssey from Dream Horse Press and The Chair from BOA, were both published in 2015. His recent book Porridge was published by Press 53 in 2016. His poems have appeared in many journals, including The Georgia Review, Spillway, Poetry and in anthologies such as The Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry. He lives in Charleston, S.C.

Friday, March 01, 2019

OUR AMERICA

by Susana H. Case




I tried to explain the origins of blackface
to my bewildered Italian tutor,
who grew up in Perugia
and doesn’t read American
newspapers. I, too, had never seen blackface, 
growing up, but that was in New York City,
where burnt cork or grease 
would not have been thought funny, I hope.
Vaudeville, I think . . . I hesitated, 
or the earlier minstrel shows.

I was bewildered too. We shook our heads,
thinking of Italian companies 
that recently had to pull 
a Gucci balaclava sweater and Prada 
charms for purses,
blackface imagery on luxury.
Fat red lips on a black background
startled passersby on the East Side,
including me, who would never 
again enter their stores, both companies 
not having understood America, 
or having understood it too well.


Susana H. Case is the author of six books of poetry, most recently the erasure book, Erasure, Syria (Recto y Verso Editions, 2018). Her most recent book of traditional poetry, Drugstore Blue, was published in 2017. She is also the author of four chapbooks, two of which won poetry prizes. Her first collection, The Scottish Café, from Slapering Hol Press, was re-released in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press in Poland. Her work has appeared in CalyxThe Cortland ReviewPortland ReviewPotomac ReviewRattleRHINO and many other journals.